XML, JSON, CSV, Inline: Which format is right for your XBRL data?

Regulators in over 60 countries are collecting compliance data in structured format using XBRL. Governments and firms alike are pushing to find new and innovative ways to use that data, and there is significant work begin done at the standards level to enable that market need.

XBRL International’s Open Information Model (“OIM”) aims to make XBRL data easier and more efficient to work with. This work is creating new opportunities for everyone who uses structured data. It will also open up new avenues for using data in ways that creates significant benefits for regulators and filers alike.

A key part of this initiative is creating a CSV representation for XBRL data. This new format builds on the work of the W3C’s CSV on the Web Working Group, and is of particular interest where XBRL is being used to collect very large volumes of data, such as bank credit reporting, where banks must disclose details of the individual loans that they hold.

Those looking to use publish XBRL data for public consumption also have a new option. A public working draft of xBRL-JSON, a JSON representation of XBRL data aimed at making XBRL data easier to consume, was released earlier in 2016. For many applications, JSON is considered easier to work with than XML. We see the primary role of xBRL-JSON as being the publication of XBRL data that has already been validated as part of a regulatory data collection system, and to this end, the design of xBRL-JSON has prioritised simplicity of consumption over efficiency of representation. You can learn more about xBRL-JSON in an earlier blog post from our Technical Director, Paul Warren.

Another format which is seeing a lot of use is Inline XBRL (or iXBRL).  The US SEC has recently joined the UK and Denmark in adopting iXBRL, which embeds structured data into a standard HTML document, creating a single, interactive report which can be consumed by both humans and machines alike. It is possible to construct very powerful viewers for searching and using data presented in iXBRL. Use of iXBRL can reduce the burden on filers, as it avoids the need for “dual filing” of a human-readable and computer-readable version of a report, and in some implementations, iXBRL helps remove the need for company-specific extensions.

Making sense of all these changes can be a challenge, but the XBRL Consortium will have numerous experts to guide you at Data Amplified. Click here to see the schedule of all the tracks and sessions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.